In perhaps the best game of these 2013 NHL Playoffs—a game that made you say ‘Goddamn, goddamn, goddamn‘ over and over again even if you didn’t have a dog in the fight—the Maple Leafs threw their best punch at the Bruins in a huge Game Four last night in Toronto. But thanks to Boston’s counter-punching combo of yet another spectacular Tuukka Rask outing (45 saves on 48 shots) and a natural hat trick from leading playoff scorer David Krejci, it was the Leafs who found themselves on the mat looking up at a 3-1 series deficit.
The Leafs jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one but the Bs never panicked as they’d score the next three goals to take command of the game. For about a minute, until Toronto knotted things at three going into the third. After Nazem Kadri clipped Chris Kelly with a bloody high stick, the Bs had four minutes to regain and perhaps pad the lead. But they got no real pressure and would later have to kill of Zdeno Chara’s high-sticking penalty with six and change left. And then it was really IBS time.
For the remainder of the third and the entirety of OT, the two teams took turns going up and down the ice only to squander opportunities or get stopped, with Toronto holding a visible advantage. That is until Dion Phaneuf made a pinch so awful, even Clarence Thomas blushed. Sure, he managed a dangerous leg-on-leg check on Nathan Horton. But he also sent the playoffs’ best offensive weapon in on a 2-on-1 with the playoff assists leader (tied) because Horton managed to make the pass. Krejci waited with the patience of Little Bill and looked off Milan Lucic before snapping the puck under James Reimer’s right arm to send the Leafs fans and their awful fucking signs into the Ontario night.
Just an unreal game that people will be talking about for years to come. Even Joffrey Lupul, who has been excellent all series and just suffered a devastating loss, managed to crack a post-game smile when asked if he had fun out there. But without the preternatural calm and McQueenesque coolness of Rask, it’s quite likely this series is tied today and Bs are pulling on their collars just a bit right now. Time and time again, the Finn methodically and crisply made save after save after save until Phaneuf’s folly.
So now the Bs have a golden opportunity to close the Leafs out in just five games and give themselves a bit of a breather while the other teams continue to pound the shit out of each other. They should know that they likely demoralized an inexperienced team and want no part of making another trip back to Toronto for a Game Six. Still, it won’t be easy. This Leafs team has some talent and showed serious heart last night. The Bs should expect more of it in droves tomorrow night. But as long as they keep producing rebounds from Reimer (i.e. they shoot the puck at him) and Rask keeps doing his thing, there should be handshakes by 10 o’clock.
Oh, and by the way McAdams, if you want to sit with a Bruins fan again tomorrow night, hit me @RearAdBsBlog — it’s on me (pic from @zanetti73 ).